TOP-50 interesting facts about Thailand and Thais
Thailand is an ancient country in Southeast Asia that shares many similarities with its neighbors. But at the same time, it is a unique country with its own customs, history, and culture. In our article, we have collected 50 fascinating facts about this country and its inhabitants, which will help you form a first impression and plan your holiday in Thailand in an interesting way.
50 Most Interesting Facts about Thais and Thailand
So, let’s begin our journey through the history, traditions, and sights of this amazing country.
1. On the territory of Thailand, archaeologists discovered the remains of one of the oldest people on Earth – Lampang man. He lived in these places 1 million years ago.
2. The first states in this area appeared at the turn of our era. In the 2nd century A.D., the Mon people lived here as part of the Phunan Khmer Empire. For a long time, it was the Khmer who ruled over Thai lands.
3. The first genuinely Thai state is considered to be Ayutthaya, which appeared in the middle of the 15th century. Ayutthaya maintained contacts with Portugal, and at this time, Christian missionaries appeared here.
4. In the 17th century, French envoys began to play a significant role in Ayutthaya. They almost placed their puppet on the throne but were expelled.
5. From the middle of the 18th century, regular clashes with the Burmese began. They took place with varying success, and to this day, relations between the countries remain tense.
6. In the late 18th century, Thonburi became the capital of Thailand. King Thaksin declared himself a Buddha and was overthrown by his own associates. One of them became the new king of Thailand – Rama I. Since 1782, the ruling royal dynasty of Thailand has made history, and Bangkok became the capital.
7. In the middle of the 19th century, the kingdom became officially known as Siam, although Europeans had been calling these lands Siam since the 13th century. This name was retained until 1949.
8. Siam was the only state in the region that did not become a European colony. This was because Siam served as a buffer zone between the British (Burma, Malaya) and French (Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam) colonies.
9. The early 21st century in Thailand has been marked by two successive military coups. The most recent one occurred in 2014 when the king’s power was curtailed, and a military government took over.
10. In 2019, the country held general elections for the National Assembly, marking the beginning of a return to democracy.
11. The word «Thai» translates to «free.» Therefore, the country’s name, Thailand, translates to «Land of the Free People.»
12. The country’s calendar differs from the common calendar. It is based on the year of Buddha’s transition to nirvana, with the beginning of counting dated as March 11, 543 BC.
13. Buddhism is the main state religion of Thailand, with over 90 percent of the population being Buddhists. The country boasts more than 30,000 Buddhist temples and approximately 370,000 monks.
14. Presently, Thailand ranks as one of the most dynamically developing countries in Asia, holding the 10th position in the region in terms of GDP.
15. The king of the country is Rama X, Maha Vachiralongkorn, known for his extravagant antics. For instance, he appointed his poodle, Fu-Fu, as an air marshal, and after the dog’s passing, he declared a four-day mourning period in the country.
16. The Thai royal family is considered one of the richest in the world, with their fortune estimated at between 30 and 60 billion euros.
17. Thailand is home to almost 70 million people, ranking 20th in the world in terms of population.
18. Bangkok holds a place in the Guinness Book of Records for having the city with the longest name. Its full name is «Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahintarayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Nopparat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchanivet Mahasatan Amon Piman Awatan Satit Sakkathathattiya Witsanukam Prasi,» and schoolchildren in Thailand are required to learn it by heart.
19. Thailand is one of the most popular tourist destinations. In 2018, about 38 million people visited the country for holidays, and tourism contributes to 18% of the GDP.
20. Modern Thailand is the world leader in rice cultivation, producing approximately 9 million tonnes of this cereal annually, including the famous variety, ‘Jasmine.’
21. The main attraction of the country, which every tourist must visit, is the Royal Palace in Bangkok. It is a vast palace complex, with the Temple of the Emerald Buddha considered its centerpiece.
22. Another iconic landmark in the country is its ancient capital, Ayutthaya, located near Bangkok. It features ruins of majestic temples, as well as the famous Buddha’s head enveloped in the roots of a mighty tree.
23. Bangkok boasts many other temples, with the most visited being Wat Pho, known for the Lying Buddha, and Wat Arun, often referred to as the Temple of Dawn.
24. Among the more modern attractions in Thailand’s capital is the Iconsiam building, a 317-meter-high skyscraper that houses a vast shopping mall. In the evenings, a colorful light show with singing fountains takes place along the waterfront.
25. On Phuket Island, you can find one of the largest Buddha statues, standing at 45 meters high, situated on Mount Nakaked. This statue is located at the very spot where Buddha meditated.
26. Samui Island is home to another impressive temple, Plai Laem, dedicated to the goddess Guanin. A colossal statue of the goddess, with 18 arms, stands on an artificial island in the middle of a small pond.
27. The renowned tropical garden, Nong Nuch, is situated near the resort city of Pattaya. It boasts the most extensive collection of plants from around the world, along with a museum of vintage cars and a rock garden.
28. The unique White Temple in the city of Chiang Rai began construction in 1997. The path leading to the temple is adorned with fangs and hands emerging from beneath the ground, symbolizing the journey from hell to heaven.
29. Spirit houses, which tourists encounter at every turn, can also be considered attractions in the country. These houses always come in pairs. The taller one is intended for patron spirits and gods, while the smaller one is for the spirits of ancestors.
The Character and Customs of Thais
30. Thais are good-natured and cheerful people for whom the meaning of life is embodied in the words «Sanuk» and «Sabai,» which can be translated as the ability to have fun and live in comfort.
31. The pursuit of personal comfort makes Thais unhurried and easygoing. Why rush somewhere today when you can do the same thing tomorrow?
32. Another iconic Thai phrase is «mai pen rai,» which translates to «never mind.» With this phrase, locals can easily resolve any conflict or disagreement.
33. At the same time, Thais are very superstitious. They have dozens of omens and taboos, violating which is considered impolite. For example, it’s considered offensive to touch another person’s head, as the guardian spirit is believed to reside there.
34. Additionally, it is not customary for Thais to address each other by name, especially with strangers. This practice is also related to their belief in guardian spirits. Therefore, Thais often use nicknames for everyday communication.
35. Like many other Asian cultures, the left hand is considered unclean by Thais. However, they also regard feet as dirty and should not extend them toward another person.
36. Thais are highly religious. They hold monks in great esteem and frequently make offerings to them. Moreover, every man is expected to spend a few months in a temple to become a monk when he reaches the age of 20.
37. Thais hold the royal family in high regard, and any insult to the monarchs is punishable by a hefty fine. Additionally, you won’t find any images of the king in his old age anywhere in the country. In all portraits, he is depicted as a young, vigorous man, regardless of his actual age.
38. In the country, it is not customary to tip with coins, no matter how many you have. It’s believed that coins should only be given to monks and beggars. For ordinary Thais, it’s better to use small notes.
39. A Thai wedding consists of two parts – a secular and a religious ceremony. First, the couple bows before an image of Buddha and recites prayers. Then, the parents place loops on their heads symbolizing the marital bond.
40. Thais also have a concept of a bride price that the groom is obliged to pay. However, in recent times, this tradition has become more symbolic, with the bride price going into the family budget.
41. The deceased in the country are cremated according to Buddhist tradition. Moreover, the funeral itself is considered a celebration, as it symbolizes the person’s liberation from the burdens of this life and the opportunity for their spirit to be reborn.
42. Traditional Thai cuisine features many dishes made from rice and seafood. Almost all dishes are known for their bold spiciness. Thai curry, called «kayeng,» is particularly popular.
43. Tom Yam and Tom Kha soups have become symbols of Thai cuisine. The former is made with shrimp and mushrooms, while the latter includes coconut milk and chicken.
44. All people of European origin in Thailand are often referred to as «farangs.» The origin of this word isn’t precisely explained, but it does not carry a negative connotation.
The nature of Thailand
45. Much of Thailand lies in a subequatorial climate, characterized by high humidity and heat, which results in lush and diverse natural landscapes. The country boasts numerous rivers, mountains, jungles, and, of course, stunning beaches.
46. Thailand’s best beaches can be found on the islands of Phuket, Krabi, and Samui. They are known for their gently sloping entry into the water, soft and clean sands, and an abundance of marine life.
47. The most exotic islands in Thailand are located in the province of Krabi. These are the so-called karst islands – small land masses covered in dense vegetation that rise dramatically from the sea.
48. Thailand’s most beautiful river is the Kwai, located in the northwest. It features a strong and swift current and is renowned for its significant daily fluctuations in water levels, which can reach up to 1.5 meters.
49. The primary symbol of the kingdom is the White Elephant. Such an elephant can only be owned by the king. In Buddhism, the white elephant is considered the sacred animal of the god Indra, the patron saint of Thailand and Bangkok.
50. The Siamese cat is also regarded as a symbol of the country. This graceful animal, with short hair, a black face, and blue eyes, has captivated people worldwide. Today, several cat breeds are based on its phenotype, including the Burmese, Balinese, and Oriental.
Friends! If you know more interesting facts about Thais and Thailand, kindly share them in the comments. This country is brimming with amazing stories, culture, and traditions, and many people would be delighted to learn something new. Your contributions will be greatly appreciated!